The Game Tutor Grades Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

I have never played an Ys games before so when loading up “Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana” I was not sure what to expect. I leave an Ys fan having played one of the best action RPGs I have played in a very long time.

The game starts on a ship with our main protagonist Adol and travelling companion Dogi sailing to their next adventure when they are attacked by a Kraken like sea creature and our protagonists find themselves washed up on the shore of a “deserted island.” This begins one of the most original stories I have seen in an RPG where the main goal of the game is to escape the island. Along the way you find other survivors that you band together which to make a village the serves as the game’s main hub point. By the end of the game’s 45ish hour playtime I cared a great deal about all the characters and didn’t want it to end. The storyline is superb, the writing is fantastic and overlooking a few weird plot holes everything flows wonderfully.

Gameplay is a fairly standard hack and slash setup with you controlling 3 characters who all belong to one of 3 types that different enemies are weak or strong against. Along with that sees you are using a mix of special abilities and a well-made block and dodge system that leads to some surprisingly deep combat. As you explore the island you find it is inhabited by large dinosaur like creatures and thus begins the web of mysteries.

If all truth be told “Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana” is actually a secret Metroidvania. Areas of the map are blocked off until you find the required gear to progress and other sections are blocked until you have enough members of your village to help clear the blockage. This gameplay loop combined with defending your village and doing side quests is very pleasing and works extremely well.

One of the best parts about gameplay however is the ability to switch between characters on the fly that gives the game a great sense of fluidity. This is somewhat halted a little by the fact you are limited as to how many special items you can hold many of which that are required to navigate the world. In certain situations, you find yourself going back to the menu every few minutes to switch between items.

Visually the game is a mixed bag. The character models and monsters all have a lot of personality and while the game clearly did start off life on the Playstation Vita it is still a pretty game to look at even if the areas are a little bit empty sometimes. What is very annoying however is the way the game handles performance. It is very common in games for character models that are further away to be rendered in less detail but “Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana” goes one step further and reduces their frame rate. This results in incredibly jarring situations where monster in the background are glitching all over the play at about 5fps. This is not an isolated problem in certain areas this happens all the time and I could see putting a few people off.

Sure, it is not perfect but in “Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana” I found one of the most charming and engaging adventures I have played in a really long time and one I cannot recommend enough.